BY ARIANNA MERCADO
Edwin Coscolluela (b. 1953, Manila) is known for his career as an abstractionist, with works that take an ambiguous form with simple colors. His latest show at Galleria Duemila, entitled Tileworks is a testament to his process and simple style that evokes a multitude of narratives.
Tileworks acts sort of as a highly calculated and precise mosaic, as if it were something a computer had generated. Coscolluela carefully assembles each tile in his work as in a puzzle. Through his arrangements, he is able to illustrate a certain movement without having to bombard the image with many elements.
Coscolluela’s pieces are unlike that of a typical abstractionist. He opts not to use painting as a medium for his works, nor does he choose to create typical studies of works—it is his process and choice of medium that sets him apart from the rest.
Coscolluela’s process integrates the novel and the classic, making use of new technologies to be able to construct timeless pieces. Coscolluela utilizes modern-day computer programs to be able to design his pieces and afterwards, translates it onto his medium. He embraces new technologies while also staying true to his roots, ideas, and disposition as an abstractionist. For Tileworks, he had constructed grids on Adobe Illustrator, which one by one, he filled in, slowly constructing his composition. Once he was content, he translated this composition with small tiles, ensuring that each line was straight and neat.
In some ways, Coscolluela’s Tileworks is reminiscent of a photograph printed on a newspaper. From afar, the works appear to take a definite form, but upon further inspection, the images that he creates are merely dots and strung together without clear distinction on what it might form. Coscolluela embraces this ambiguity. What interests him the most about abstraction is the fact that anyone could come and have their own engagements with a piece, appropriating it into what their own understandings of their world may be.
For these works, Coscolluela wanted to explore movement. He creates compositions of a crashing wave and stars skittering down to the ground. While there is a very static element to his works, by virtue of having tiles stuck onto the piece and the mere weight to the pieces, Coscolluela is still able to successfully depict the lightness and fleetingness of movement.
In a way, there is a certain meditative quality to Coscolluela’s works. While he declares that has departed from his previous practice of having concerned himself with meditative or introspective works, Coscolluela’s meditation shines through more once we consider the process it takes him to create these compositions. There is something poetic and relaxing about the act of constant repetition to create order in works. Tile by tile, Coscolluela both drafts his work and sticks each piece meticulously onto the grout.
Coscolluela’s works are equal parts digital and analog. His use of present technologies in his works is integral to his process. By engaging with these programs, he is able to integrate the new and the old, breathing life into codes and numbers by translating it into his pieces. Looking up close, one might see a combination of squares, of zeroes and ones, incomprehensible, overwhelming, and complex. Only when we step back we are greeted by elegant free flowing movement that appears to engulf the work, allowing us to sway back with it.•
Arianna Mercado is a recipient of the 2017 Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Award for Art Criticism. She is an independent curator who aims to contribute to arts education. Last year, her undergraduate thesis which tackled the theme of emptiness in Philippine abstraction entitled “You Are Here” was exhibited in the Cultural Center of the Philippines. She is currently residing in Metro Manila.
Tile works. Edwin Coscolluela’s latest exhibit at Galleria Duemila consist of his glass tiles on plywood, a visual rendering that saw its stages in Adobe Illustrator and finally composed into concreteness through small, colored glass tiles that are in modes of abstraction. Inspired mainly by the movements of nature, Edwin Coscolluela’s works saw various dynamisms and active gestures that the artist claims to crave. Creating an image out of many other tiles, the works of Coscolluela are mosaic in nature and a testament to his artistry of non-representational art, gaining inspiration from the momentary, transitory scenes in the environment surrounding him.
Curling, a 163 cm x 120 cm composition, made up of grays, whites and blacks, with a curvilinear subject draws the eyes in a fluid, whirlwind loop of gradient-like positioning of tiles despite the rigidness of the material used. Written in the Stars, a 240 cm x 60 cm work is evident of Coscolluela’s eye for imagery and his command of materials. All works are but inspired of ordinary circumstances turned into an otherwise sophisticated form of art.
Edwin Coscolluela has participated in more than 100 shows from 1973 up to the present. He is a trained photographer and a retired instructor for more than 36 years. Tile Works will open on March 17–April 28, 2018. Opening Reception is on March 17, Saturday at 4pm. Galleria Duemila is located at 210 Loring St. 1300 Pasay City.